WD-40 Turns 65

Most everyone has a can of WD-40 around to stop squeaks, prevent rust, or lubricate something. This year, the iconic formula turns 65-years old.

Company CEO Garry Ridge says it all got started on a rocket ship.

"Back in 1953 there was a challenge with condensation and corrosion in the umbilical cord of the Atlas space rocket. The company was then called Rocket Chemical Company, and three of the chemists got together and wanted attack the challenge," says Ridge. "Now, fortunately they didn’t give up after 39. They had 39 formulas that didn’t work, the 40th one worked, and that’s how we got our name. WD – Water Displacement 40th Formula."

The formula was never patented. The company goes to great lengths to keep their secret sauce a secret and keeps it under lock-and-key in a vault. During a recent move, the recipe was locked in a briefcase and handcuffed to Garry Ridge.

WD-40 has been used for so many things over the years from removing gum stuck on shoes to preventing corrosion on machinery parts. But he says it’s been involved in some rather unusual situations as well.

"There was a naked burglar that got stuck in air conditioning duct. The police officer sprayed some WD-40 around the perimeter of the air conditioning duct and was able to actually slide the person out," says Ridge. "Another one was a python snake got caught in the undercarriage of a bus in Hong Kong. They sprayed around the undercarriage and that snake just slithered out into the jungle."

Find more uses for WD-40 that don’t involve snakes or naked burglars